IS GREAT WOLF LODGE FOR TODDLERS? (OUR HONEST REVIEW)

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We’ve been to the Great Wolf lodge twice, and each time was a different experience. Since our son was so young, we thought we’d go back for this review to determine if the Great Wolf Lodge is for toddlers.

We are basing our review on our experience with a baby and a toddler at the Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim. For parents wondering if Great Wolf Lodge is for toddlers, this is the post for you.

We tell you everything you need to know about staying at the Great Wolf Lodge with a toddler or baby.

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If I remember correctly, kids under 2-years-old are free, so our son didn’t need to wear a wristband. What I do like about the Great Wolf Lodge is everything is done with your wristband, so you don’t have to worry about carrying a key or wallet inside the hotel.

Related Post: The 15 Best Theme Parks for Toddlers

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN YOUR STAY AT THE GREAT WOLF LODGE?

If you are wondering what is included in your stay at the Great Wolf Lodge with toddlers, here if the answer. The only things really included are tickets to the water park and access to their kids’ activities. Food, parking, and games are not included in the price of your stay.

This is my major complaint about the Great Wolf Lodge. I think food should be included, and you should receive a few credit for their games, but there is an additional cost for everything. Trust me when I say everything.

>>> Save 30% at the Great Wolf Lodge

THE ROOMS AT GREAT WOLF LODGE

Taking a nap after spending the first half of the day at the waterpark.

We stayed in a basic standard suite during our time at this indoor water park. In my opinion, the rooms are expensive for what you get, so unless you have a large family, the themed rooms aren’t worth the cost. Here are three different categories of rooms to choose from:

Standard Suites

The standard suite is a basic hotel room. There is a bed, desk, sleeper couch (select rooms), refrigerator, and microwave. If you are looking to enjoy the facilities without spending a lot of money, this is the best option.

We stayed in this room during both of our stays, and it worked perfectly for us.

Themed Suites

The themed suites are perfect for larger families that need additional space. Kids have access to their own Wolf Den, so there is a separate sleeping area for parents and kids. Plus, this location recently upgraded their technology so kids can activate special animations in their Wolf Dens.

Parents and kids can relax in their own areas with separate TVs, so you aren’t stuck watch Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, or some other cartoon that your kids can’t get enough of.

Premium Suites

Premium suites have the highest capacity, fitting up to eight people per room. Only six people are included in the room cost, so you’ll have to pay additional money for two more people.

This is the largest suite available in the hotel. There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two TVs, a sleeper sofa, refrigerator, and microwave.

>>> Check out Suites at Great Wolf Lodge

FOOD

The one thing that bothers me about Great Wolf Lodge is the food is not included with your stay. I think it would be better if the experience is all-inclusive, especially for the amount of money you pay. There are meal packages available, but they are per day, so the costs add up quickly.

To save money, we purchased the meal plan for one day, and we packed food for the rest of the time. Since we only stayed for three days and two nights, it wasn’t too much.

We only needed food for two days and snacks throughout the day. Luckily, there is food everywhere near this location, plus UberEats and DoorDash deliver, so it wasn’t hard to find food.

Lodge Wood Fire Grill

Hours: 5 pm to 10 pm

The Lodge Wood Fire Grill is the dinner restaurant, which in my opinion, was delicious. We ate here twice, and let me tell you, the best things on the menu are the Brussel sprouts and the mac and cheese. Be sure to get the Brussel sprouts with goat cheese and balsamic dressing because it is phenomenal.

Hungry As A Wolf

Hours: 11:30 am to 9 pm

This is an Italian restaurant where you get pizza, sub sandwiches, garlic bread, chicken wings, salad, and drinks. We ate here once, and I remember the pizza being decent, but nothing exciting.

It was a little expensive in my opinion, but others may not think so. It’s a quick and easy meal that I’m sure your kids will love. What kid doesn’t love pizza?

Loose Moose Family Kitchen

Hours: 7 am to 11 am

Note: Children 3 and under are free with a paying adult.

The Loose Moose Kitchen is where you have breakfast, while the characters walk around and say hi to all of the kids. There is an option to purchase the breakfast package, at least 24 hours before check-in.

Honestly, the breakfast was decent, but not worth $20 per person ($10 for kids). The breakfast is buffet-style, so there are a lot of options to choose from. Kids will love the fruit, yogurt, cereal, and other sweet options.

Buckets Incredible Craveables

Hours: 10 am to 6 pm

The Buckets Incredible Craveables is the snack shack located inside of the waterpark. If your kids get hungry, you don’t have to worry about leaving to get them something to eat.

The typical quick food is available such as burgers, hot dogs, fries, chicken strips, nachos, and other quick meals. The fries were pretty good, and I enjoyed the burger.

Note: There aren’t many tables available, so you may want someone to save your seats to eat.

Bear Paw Sweets & Eats

Hanging out at the bakery on his birthday

Hours 2 pm to 10 pm

This bakery is located on the lower level next to the bowling alley. Here is where you will find sweet treats for your family. We stopped here for a few cupcakes for our little one’s birthday, and he had a blast smashing them.

Note: Great Wolf Lodge dining facilities do not serve peanut or tree nut products. Our son is allergic to peanuts, so it was reassuring that there are no peanuts in the food here.

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WHAT DO YOU NEED AT GREAT WOLF LODGE WITH TODDLERS

Here is a list of everything you need for your time at Great Wolf Lodge with your toddler. Remember, the needs can vary depending on your family, but this list is comprehensive.

  • (2) Swim diapers
  • (2) Swimsuit (there no need for a rash guard, unless you plan to spend time in the outdoor pool)
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Snacks
  • Wetbag to store swimsuit
  • Water toys
  • Water Shoes

We always recommend taking two swim diapers and swimsuits to alternate them and give each one time to completely dry. Your little one can get a vicious diaper rash if it is not completely dried between uses. The same can be said for swimsuits, which are adorable on babies and toddlers.

Quick Tip: We use Remedy Phytoplex Clear Antifungal Ointment. It is the absolute best diaper cream for severe rashes. Keep in mind, this cream is for kids over 2-years-old, but we’ve been using it since our son was a baby for nasty rashes, and it’s astonishing.

>>> Save 30% at the Great Wolf Lodge

Our Favorite Swimsuits for Babies & Toddlers

Things you don’t need

  • Towels
  • Floatation devices or life jackets
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

ACTIVITIES AT THE GREAT WOLF LODGE FOR TODDLERS

Here are all of the activities that are perfect for toddlers.

Cub Paw Pool

The toddler area at Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park

The best place to spend at Great Wolf Lodge for toddlers is Cub Paw Pool. We spent 95% of our time here because the water is warmer, shallow, and there are things for young kids and babies to do here.

We slid down some of the small slides, but the larger slides in this section are not for kids under 2-years-old. They have to be able to go up the stairs and down the slides by themselves. There is a lifeguard at the top of the slides helping kids, but parents are not allowed on the slides.

Northern Lights Arcade

Playing at the arcade with our little guy

There is an arcade section for kids to play games. Anytime there is a basketball shooting game I can’t resist, so I played a few games, but our son was too young. We played a few games together, but he was just along for the ride, while I played the game.

Fort Mackenzie

Fort Mackenzie is for kids 3-years-old and up, who are not tall enough to ride the waterslides but can handle a lot of water. There are buckets of water filling at the top of the enclosure that drop and splash water on the kids.

This fun playground area is a blast for kids. This area of Great Wolf Lodge is for toddlers that are active. The water in this area is shallow ranging from only six inches to one foot.

Be sure to watch your little one as they play in this area. The water buckets dumps over 500 gallons of water, so younger kids should not stand directly under the bucket.

Ten Paw Alley

Bowling with our little guy

The Ten Paw Alley is a bowling alley, just for kids. There are bumpers, so the balls hits the pins instead of the gutters. The balls are perfect for little hands, and are lightweight so they can throw them down the lane.

You don’t need special shoes, so it’s perfect for toddlers. I do think the game is a little expensive at $7.00 per game. Overall, it’s a lot of fun for kids 3-years-old and up.

Story Time

9 pm to 9:15 pm

Story Time is a lot of fun for young kids. The major issue I have is the time of the story. Storytime starts at 9 pm, which to me is too late for most kids.

I think there should be different storytimes for kids of different ages because our 2-year-old goes to bed at 7:30 pm. Story Time starts at 9 pm, so if your little one goes to bed early, they will miss this activity.

Howl at the Moon Glow Golf

Want to play a game of mini-golf with your kids? Howl at the Moon Glow Golf is a 9-hole mini golf course with a twist.

This course turns regular mini-golf into fun with a black light experience. The nature-themed forest is brought to life through neon lights, as you make your way through the course.

Your family will have a blast. The cost is $7.00 per person per game, so the cost can add up quickly.

Character Appearances

The characters roam around the building throughout different times of the day. The best time to get a picture with the character is at breakfast, they take the time to visit every table to interact with the kids.

Our little guy wasn’t a fan of the characters, so we had to hold me for the pictures.

The Forest Friends Show

Varies times throughout the day

The Forest Friends Show is an automated interactive story that kids will love. There are lights, songs, and areas for your toddler to get involved. This show plays three times throughout the day, so there are a few opportunities to catch the show.

Dance Party

8 pm to 8:45 pm

The dance party is a blast for kids, especially with the lights and bubbles. This is the perfect time for kids to burn their energy before bedtime.

We have dance parties all the time as a family, so our little one didn’t miss too much. If you want to take advantage of everything the Great Wolf Lodge has to offer for toddlers, you may need to keep them up a little later.

Arts & Crafts

Varies time throughout the day

There are different arts and crafts for kids to do throughout the day. The times and activities will differ depending on the time and location.

The crafts are meant for the entire family, so take some time to build with your little ones. Many of the crafts aren’t for toddlers under 3-years-old.

8 TIPS FOR VISITING GREAT WORLF LODGE WITH A TODDLER

Here some of the best tips for visiting the Great Wolf Lodge with a toddler. They will help you save money, time, and you will enjoy your time more.

1. Go During Off Season or Mid Week (Save Money)

I consider the Great Wolf Lodge to be a little expensive, especially if you have younger children. To cut the costs making your reservation during the offseason is the best option.

When we stayed in June (my birthday) the cost was double, compared to when we stayed in November (our son’s birthday).

>>> Save money at the Great Wolf Lodge

2. Arrive Early

You can arrive as early as 1 pm on the day of your reservation, so you can use this additional time to head to the waterpark. The room usually isn’t available until 3 or 4 pm, so be sure to wear your swimsuits, or pack an additional bag.

When we arrived around 12:30 pm our room was ready, but that’s rare. The front desk will keep your bags while you and the kids head to the fun.

You will receive a message from the virtual assistant (if you download the app), when your room is ready, so hang out and have fun.

3. Bring Snacks

Your little one will need snacks during your stay at the Great Wolf Lodge with a toddler. There are places to eat, but they are expensive, so it’s best to bring your own snacks.

We brought fruit, granola bars, oatmeal, and a few other snacks to eat between our meals. There aren’t many places within the hotel to get snacks, so brining them before will make your life easier.

I’m not sure about your toddler, but ours gets hangry, so we always have snacks ready.

Our Toddler’s Favorite Snacks

4. Stay Late (After Check-Out)

Check out is early compared to other hotels, so be forewarned you have by 10 am. We were able to do some fast talking and get our check out extended to 11 am, but that’s rare.

You can pay for a late checkout, but honestly, it isn’t worth the money. After you check out, you can still enjoy the facilities.

There is no need to worry about your luggage, you can leave it with the front desk, and they will lock them in a room. All you need is to pack extra clothes for when you are done at the pool. We used the changing rooms in the waterpark to take a quick shower and get dressed.

5. Pack a Separate Bag

If you want to take advantage of arriving early and leaving late, you’ll need to pack a separate bag. You will need clothes, shoes, snacks, and drinks. This way you can drop off your luggage and hangout at the water park as long as you want before checking in or leaving after checking out.

6. Go to Waterpark Early

Our son has always been an early rise, like me, so we went to the waterpark as soon as it opened and it was empty. We were able to enjoy time by ourselves in the pool and get the spot we wanted.

Arriving at the waterpark early with a toddler gives them time to tire themselves out before naptime. Plus, it’s the perfect time to get on all of the waterslides.

I got on all of the waterslides in the morning, so the rest of the time, I could hang out with my family. Everyone can have a good time.

7. Eat Outside the Hotel

One of the ways you can save money is by eating outside of the hotel. Although the food is okay, the price is more than the quality. Dinner at the Wood Lodge Fire Grill adds up quickly, especially for larger families.

There are restaurants within a 10-minute drive, so there is no shortage of options available in Orange County.

8. Pack Moisturizer

We normally pack our own moisturizer because my son and I have sensitive skin, but you’ll definitely need to have it for this trip.

You’ll notice there is no shortage of chlorine inside the waterpark, so you’ll need to nourish your skin with cream or lotion after your shower.

IS GREAT WOLF LODGE WORTH THE PRICE?

In my opinion, the Great Wolf Lodge isn’t for toddlers younger than 4-years-old. The activities are too late, so your little one will miss storytime if they go to bed early. Plus, the activities they have throughout the day are for older toddlers, so even though we had fun, it wasn’t worth the cost.

Another contributing factor that makes me feel the cost is too high is how there is a charge for everything. On top of having to buy food, snacks and pay for games, there is an additional parking charge. I believe there shouldn’t be a parking charge for hotel guests, but that’s just my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time, but it would be best to go when your kids are older. That way, your kids could take advantage of everything this indoor waterpark has to offer.

If you want to have just as much fun, without spending a fortune, you could go to Legoland in Carlsbad. Staying at a hotel in the area and heading to the combination water and theme park is less money, and in my opinion, it is more fun.

Another alternative for young kids is Knott’s Berry Farm, which is only a few minutes from the Great Wolf Lodge.

Last update on 2021-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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